Immortals Fenyx Rising: Accessibility and Gameplay Impressions

Immortals Fenyx Rising is an action adventure game with RPG elements and what appears to be a rather vast open world. It is, in many ways, exactly the kind of game you associate with Ubisoft, and that is not a bad thing. They are, after all, very good at what they do. And yes, for the 2 and a half hours or so that I spent with the game, I was charmed, and excited by the concepts on display. I’ll tell you about some of those, but mostly this article is going to stick to the reason you’re all here, the game’s accessibility. So let’s start there.

The demo I played was a very carefully-constructed, special build of a part of the game, and thus did not have many accessibility features that will be present in the final product. Among these were menu narration and aim assist, both of which would have been helpful along my journey. However, I find myself not holding this against Ubisoft too much, as I was gifted with a fantastic Demoist, (a term used to refer to the person there with you, showing you the demo), who not only served as my menu narration, but also as my guide and audio describer. I clearly remember joking that this was the accessibility feature games really needed. That Ubisoft needed only to hire thousands of people like him, and have them available whenever a blind person chose to play their games. Simple as that.

Unfortunately, there are blind accessibility concerns that likely will still exist when the final game is released. First and foremost, the menus. All of the menus in Immortals Fenyx Rising are cursor-based, meaning you have to move a visible cursor around to the thing you want. I acknowledge that menu narration will make this a slightly easier problem to handle, but it will no doubt still be frustrating, as even if you can hear options you move over, you may still get stuck trying to focus on the one specific option you seek.

Personally, I think cursor menus should be abolished, or if that just won’t do, the D-pad should function as a snap-to-item option, meaning that the sighted can move their cursor around, but if we use the D-pad and press up and down, we move through the menus the way we expect to. As it is, my once again very awesome demoist had to guide me through any menu in which we wanted to change or select something.

Don’t misunderstand though, it wasn’t all negative on the accessibility front. One of my favorite types of accessibility, (accessibility via stellar audio design), is absolutely on display in Immortals Fenyx Rising. When using Fenyx’s farsight ability, A clear audio queue lets you know when your focus is on something of interest.

This is also accompanied by a vibration queue. Other examples include save points, which make a very, very clear sound when you’re near them, and which you need only to walk over in order to save, and the rift I had to jump through to enter and leave certain areas is not only distinct, but really rather loud. Creatures within the world also make very distinct noises, and can be tracked relatively well even when only hearing them in stereo. This is most apparent in combat, which I actually excelled at, if you can believe it.

My biggest concern with Immortals Fenyx Rising was not actually for myself. Rather, it was for motor-impaired players. As it currently stands, Fenyx’s godly powers are used by holding the left bumper and pressing the button associated with that power. I do not know if there will be a toggle option for this in the final game, but I certainly hope there is, as I found myself holding 3 buttons at one point. The team did assure us that many, many more accessibility features would exist in the final game, so I choose to remain optimistic, but I do still feel that deserved a mention here.

And now to talk for just a little bit about the game itself. Immortals Fenyx Rising is a game in which you play as a young woman, Fenyx, gifted with godly powers and an actual phoenix companion, not to mention a steampunk robotic horse, on a quest to save the other gods. You have 3 weapons at your disposal alongside your powers, all of which can be used as weapons themselves. Your non-powered combat, though, consists of a sword, an axe, and a bow, all of which are always equipped and are just attached to separate buttons.

Your Phoenix can also help in combat, though I never tried this. Oh, and you have wings, so you won’t just be walking. There is plenty of gliding in this game, and it is full of very magical sound effects that I really like. The game puts an emphasis on the cinematic and dramatic, and I have no doubt the environments are lovely to look at, though of course I can’t confirm it. That, though, isn’t where the real charm of the game lies.

In my humble opinion, the real charm of the game is its narrators, one of which is Zeus, the other of which is Prometheus. But this isn’t the God of War Zeus, no no. This one is perfectly OK with utterly annihilating the 4th wall, and I love it.

It’s a game that, I believe, will have its serious and perhaps even dark moments at times, but mostly doesn’t take itself too seriously. You are meant to feel strong and awesome, and that comes through very well.

In conclusion, I really did have a great time with Immortals Fenyx Rising. While I acknowledge that it is unlikely the final game will be playable by the blind, I also believe it will be a fun one to take in, especially if the one playing it is willing to describe events as they go. I leave you with one final video, which demonstrates what happened when I got used to the combat a bit more. There is some struggle here, but it ends with a photo finish I think you’ll like.

Thanks to Ubisoft for giving me this tremendous opportunity, and thanks to you, dear readers, for reading my impressions of Immortals Fenyx Rising.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

*

*

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.